Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Episode 96: Ultima Ratio Regum

This is episode 96 of Roguelike Radio, where we interview Mark Johnson about Ultima Ratio Regum. 

You can download the mp3 of the podcast, play it in the embedded player below, or you can follow us on iTunes.

Topics discussed:
  • The grand vision for Ultima Ratio Regum
  • Procedural world generation on many scales, with many interlocking systems
  • Mark's history and the journey his game has taken during its development
  • Environmental storytelling and procedural narrative
  • Interacting with a vast world of immense detail, and the interface challenges that come with that
  • Plans for more interactive content in 2015
  • Mark's academic interests, his paper on the semiotics of roguelikes and his plan to move into game studies
  • Roguelikes as mastery games, easing players in vs interesting challenge, and secrets vs Nethack-y silly spoilers
  • Massive roguelikes in the past - the good, the bad and the ugly. Why does Mark thing he'll buck the negative trend? Why are people so drawn to these supermassive roguelikes?
  • The new focus of URR and how restricted scope can lead to better games
  • The future... Burn the tablets!!
  • Read Mark's blog, follow him on Twitter, download URR and donate to support!

Join us next time for exciting new procedurally generated dialogue!


  1. Sounds awesome! Downloaded to check out the demo when I get a moment. Thanks for sharing. : )

  2. So, this might be a bit early but - any plans on what you are doing for the 100th RR episode yet?

    1. Might be a good time to bring back 100 Rogues for a little competition. : D

  3. Not go the hundredth episode, but: how about an episode on some of the new bunch of platformers-with-roguelike-mechanics that are in alpha at the moment. I'm thinking particularly Catacomb Kids and Vagante. I know the dev of CK listens to RR and I'm sure he's be up for coming on the show to talk about how roguelike mechanics can translate to other genres, etc.

    Also Crypt of the Necrodancer looks interesting.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. This game really looks right up my alley; I love Borges' and Eco's works, and the focus on exploration and knowledge seems a very interesting core gameplay element. Thank you Roguelike Radio for introducing me to this and many other roguelikes (I bought Dungeonmans and Hoplite from your recommendation, and of course I bought TOME and its expansion on Steam). Looking forward to the 100th episode!

    1. Excellent! Glad you like where it's going - it's an unusual gamble going for something like this as the core system, I realize, but if I can get "the image of the game I have in my head" to transform into "the game you can download", it'll be something really unique :)

  6. Excellent interview as always! I do have a question for Mark: How did you go from not knowing how to code to such a massive project? Is there a secret to learning so fast? :)

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! The secret is... hmm. I'm not really sure. I spent a lot of the first year coding something, learning a better way to code, then going back and recoding it, and so on and so forth. The best method to learning so fast is doing a lot of experimenting, spending a lot of time on it, being willing to rewrite something when you learn a better way (for the most part - there is a limit to this, since you do actually have to push forward with the project!) and realizing that absolute code efficiency is only so important. I had a damned good tutorial to start with, too (the libtcod Python one!), and obviously I just spent a massive amount of time on the project! Things always take longer than one anticipates.